September 17th - September 21

For me, this is a week that's circled on the calendar. The release of Torchlight II is something I have only grown increasingly excited about since it was announced. But, it is also something about which I have a wariness, not because I fear it will be a poor game, but because I wonder how much of my enjoyment of the first is based on the lack of Action RPGs at the time of its release. Part of the charm of the original Torchlight was the way it echoed the joy of Diablo 2 and reminded us that we used to play these games.

Now, Torchlight II will stand in stark relief against not only the omnipresent Diablo 3 but in the wake of the sharp scrutiny that the Diablo fanbase heaped on the latest offering. It is, obviously, a huge opportunity to out Diablo Blizzard, but it also feels like a big challenge for a $20 game to live up to. I am eager to see what Runic has accomplished, but find myself wondering, can they really live up to the fever dreams of what I and other ARPG fans hope T2 brings?

Also, this week Borderlands 2 has been touting bigger, better, badder for a while now, and they get the chance to live up to their heaping promises as well. I really like the original Borderlands, but I wouldn't say I loved it. In some ways it was the game I'd hoped the original Hellgate: London would be, only on an alien world instead of a familiar one infested by demons. It was, to me, a great co-op game that came and went, and now its sequel has become one of the year's headliners.

It's the same sort of thing to me, a game with grand aspirations that may or may not be ready for prime time.

Forced to choose, I would probably say I'm more excited for Torchlight II, which is why it's my game of the week, but in all honesty I'm picking both up.

PC
- Air Conflicts: Pacific Carriers
- Borderlands 2
- Dogfight 1942 (download)
- F1 2012
- Jet Set Radio (download)
- Torchlight II (download)
- Train Simulator 2013 (download)

Xbox 360
- Borderlands 2
- F1 2012
- Harley Pasternak's Hollywood Workout
- Jet Set Radio (XBLA)
- Kinect Nat Geo TV
- Kinect Sesame Street TV
- RAW - Realms of Ancient War (XBLA)
- Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Collection

PS3
- Borderlands 2
- F1 2012
- Harvest Moon: It's a Wonderful Life Special Edition (PS2 Classic)
- Jet Set Radio (PSN)
- River King (PS2 Classic)
- Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Collection

Wii
- Harley Pasternak's Hollywood Workout
- La-Mulana (WiiWare)

PSP
- Feisty Feet (Mini)

DS
- Retro Pocket (DSiWare)

Comments

Torchlight 2 is so good. So. Good.

And I plan to maintain my level lead over Sean as long as I can.

Oh wow, I keep forgetting La-Mulana is out this week! I've heard a heck of a lot of good things about it!

I've got Torchlight II pre-loaded and ready to go. Damn you, Cory and Sean, for getting to play it already...

If Torchlight 2 had released in any month before September, I would be playing it the minute it unlocked on Steam. But because it is releasing, not only in the same month but the same week as Borderlands 2, it will be at least a month before I touch TL2. Thankfully I played a good amount of TL2 during the closed beta back in April and May, so that does make the wait easier.

I'm taking off work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for Borderlands 2. I would've done the same for TL2 if Runic had chose a different (better) time to release.

Aaargh. Going to have to wait till Friday for both TL2 and Borderlands 2 to unlock over here. Stupid retailer-enforced artificial launch barriers

Gives me time to finish up Dark Souls I suppose...

I think you forgot to highlight what is the real most important release of the week: Train Simulator 2013.
I can't wait for the steam sale where I'll be able to buy copies of that for 3$ and troll my friends with it

Borderlands 2 was robbed!

Torchlight II and Jet Set Radio for me (if I can get five minutes with my Xbox - my son is currently depopulating the genus draconis in Skyrim and that takes a bit).

Nothing this week. I didn't like Torchlight so the sequel is unappealing and there are very few full price games I'll buy at release, Borderlands 2 not being one of them. It looks good to pick up on sale though.

Borderlands 2 in the beginning of the week and Torchlight 2 on the weekend. Winning!

Agh. The beginning of "so many games I can't afford all of the ones I want."

Borderlands 2 (though, I haven't finished 1 yet.)
Torchlight 2 (Same problem as borderlands.)
Legend of the River King
Jet Set Radio HD

Though, any of these that I buy would be put on the shelf for anywhere from 2 weeks to 10 years before I managed to get to them.

I just cant be as excited about Torchlight 2 as I am Borderlands 2. I haven't finished either but definately finished more of Borderlands and know the coop in it means i should get it at launch.

I played about 2/3 of Borderlands, but I'm not seeing anything in BL2 to make me think it's different, exciting, or new. What am I missing?

I kept wondering why "playing Torchlight 2 all weekend" wasn't mentioned, then I saw this was Elysium, not Certis. I guess Certis was too busy playing Torchlight 2 to write articles.

Excited about Borderlands 2 unlocking in 3 hours. But equally excited about Torchlight. I will follow my friends list this month probably, to wherever coop partners can be found.

I've "finished" torchlight twice and borderlands zero times, so I know which camp I'm in. Though I have/will be getting both. Guild wars 2 is probably the real casualty here.

juv3nal wrote:

Guild wars 2 is probably the real winner here.

Borderlands 2 will be my first (disc-based) launch day purchase in many many months. I succumbed to the hype, but if it is like Borderlands, but better, then I will be very very pleased.

EDIT: 112 new posts on the Boderlands 2 Catch-All today? Holy crap!

Aristophan wrote:

EDIT: 112 new posts on the Boderlands 2 Catch-All today? Holy crap!

Yes, they're an excitable bunch.

I'm giving all of my attention to Borderlands this week and for the foreseeable future as well. Torchlight 2 doesn't have enough wub wub to pull me away just yet

Torchlight II is my first pre-order ever, I think. Really eager to get into that. Of course this is the weekend I have to spend away from my computer...

Borderlands 2 is tempting, but nowhere near as much as Guild Wars 2, which I didn't buy into yet. Just don't have the time.

I didn't like the original Borderlands for the exact same reason I didn't like FF, um, 12? I'm not sure. Both systems more or less require grinding, killing the same enemies over and over and over again. I realize that this was an option in games like Diablo, especially multiplayer, and especially on the hard modes, but most earlier ARPGs were designed with enough content so that you could start at point A, battle your way to the end, and have enough experience and loot to have a good chance of succeeding, in regular difficulty.

But FF 12 or whatever (I'm not sure which one it was, there's been so many) and Borderlands both required you, as part of the game design, to kill the same mobs repeatedly. This wasn't optional, you HAD to do it to get strong enough to progress in later areas. In whatever FF I was playing a few years ago, I remember running around and around and around some desert-ish thing with wrecked oil platforms overhead, trying to get strong enough to survive in a forest that came right after, and then getting my ass kicked in the mountains just after the forest, and realizing that I was going to have to do it AGAIN. Somewhere along in there, I just extended my middle finger and went to play games that gave me something NEW to do, not soul-crushing repetition of the exact same fights, over and over and over and over.... dear LORD that's horrible game design. The existence of WoW did single player gaming no favors, I tell you what. It was boring, it was stupid, it was mindless busy makework to fill in the fact that there wasn't enough content in the game.

And then Borderlands was doing the exact same crap again, even in the regular mode, so I lasted, I dunno, maybe three or four hours before realizing that this was not a game I wanted to play.

Torchlight never sinned in this way, never treating me like a Chinese gold farmer. ("Work, damn you, work for your paltry few experience crumbs so that you may come back, tomorrow, and work more!") It stayed fun throughout. I don't even remember the ending, just vague impressions of colorful levels and interesting monsters, and the realization that I didn't have the patience to repeat the game even once, when I started with a different character type than my first one.

Hopefully, T2 will do the same thing, give me the ability to just play all the way through it, and then offer a repetition mode that I can play if I'm actually that taken with the game. And I don't want a 'managed experience', like the hyper-controlling Diablo 3 team came up with...once again, no thanks to WoW, a game I'm starting to wish had never been created. Rather, give us something that's weird, a system with strange corner cases that we can explore, one that lets us be overpowered and imbalanced and weakly godlike, because that sh*t is fun.

Multiplayer, and balancing for multiplayer, is a serious drag on single player games, lemme tell ya. It reminds me very much of AD&D 3rd Edition -- basically, Second Edition with all the really fun stuff taken out, all the classes and spells and powers filed down to bland conformity. 3E was far better-balanced, but it wasn't fun in the same way.

TheHipGamer wrote:

I played about 2/3 of Borderlands, but I'm not seeing anything in BL2 to make me think it's different, exciting, or new. What am I missing?

If you liked Borderlands, it's all the things that were in it made slightly-to-a-lot better. If you didn't like Borderlands, there's nothing in the sequel that will attract; it's very much in the mold of the first one. (Imagine that the first one was done by a really talented group of amateurs. Now imagine that the second one was done by Valve after purchasing the talents of said group of amateurs. That's the sort of polish upgrade that it feels like.)

It's still very much the same game, just a better version of it.

Malor wrote:

I didn't like the original Borderlands for the exact same reason I didn't like FF, um, 12? I'm not sure. Both systems more or less require grinding, killing the same enemies over and over and over again.

The more posts of yours I read, the more firmly I come to the conclusion that you and I play games very differently. (I didn't find that there was any pure grind to BL1, for example.)

Chumpy_McChump wrote:
TheHipGamer wrote:

I played about 2/3 of Borderlands, but I'm not seeing anything in BL2 to make me think it's different, exciting, or new. What am I missing?

If you liked Borderlands, it's all the things that were in it made slightly-to-a-lot better. If you didn't like Borderlands, there's nothing in the sequel that will attract; it's very much in the mold of the first one. (Imagine that the first one was done by a really talented group of amateurs. Now imagine that the second one was done by Valve after purchasing the talents of said group of amateurs. That's the sort of polish upgrade that it feels like.)

It's still very much the same game, just a better version of it.

That's what everyone is saying, but I don't see it. Being cast of the same mold is fine; being a clone with a new paint job is not. I can't point at anything fundamentally broken in the first game, so I'm left trying to grapple with the concept of Borderlands 2 being nebulously "better". Some of that is probably due to the fact that nobody here has actually dug into it yet, but I'd love to hear a Goodjer-centric review, as the main media channels are just reiterating that I should buy it.

I rode that train for SWTOR, and uninstalled it in boredom a month later. That's enough pain for me for a while.

That said, I liked Borderlands. A lot, in fact. If the sequel is the same game with new assets, I'm going to take a pass; if there are elements woven into it that innovate on the original formula, modify the gameplay, or (perhaps best of all) surprise me, I'm all in.

TheHipGamer wrote:

*curiousity re: BL2*

It's hard to quantify the "better-ness" of it, but I'll try to give a couple of more concrete examples.

- the graphics style is the same (that cel-shaded pseudo-cartoon from BL1), but the world feels more fleshed out - there's more variety of just about everything, like buildings, terrain, fence textures, open-ables, etc, so it feels more interesting to walk about.

- the enemies feel a bit more varied, though I'm only a couple hours in, and they move quickly. It feels less cookie-cutter than BL1 did.

- the guns have the same great shooty-feel but more visual difference. There's also significant variance in performance, but that may be at least partially because I'm still so early in the game.

- the skill trees are more coherent IMO.

- the writing is top-notch. I enjoyed the writing in the first; this feels tighter, and it feels like there's more of it. The dark comedy beats are really, really good.

- there's an extra pseudo-achievement-based progression system called Badass points. You get them for hitting assorted milestones (kill 50/100/1000 bandits, etc), and they give minor perks for all your characters (+0.7% gun accuracy, -0.1sec reload time, etc).

Having just played them both, it feels kind of like the difference between Batman AA and Batman AC, though without the metroidvania/GTA split. AC shares a core with AA, but everything was expanded and improved on, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes significant ones. BL1->BL2 feels like that.

If you liked BL1 as much as you suggest, BL2 is - so far - excellent. It's a better, bigger version of something you liked. Purchase accordingly.

The more posts of yours I read, the more firmly I come to the conclusion that you and I play games very differently. (I didn't find that there was any pure grind to BL1, for example.)

Well, maybe I didn't give it long enough; I checked my Steam stats, and I only had two hours on the game. But I just didn't like what I saw -- it seemed repetitive and boring.

Anyone play the train sim? That looks interesting but... just wondering what all is involved?

I hope I'm not expecting too much from Torchlight2... D3 was enough of a disappointment.

I too, have Torchlight2 and Borderlands2 pre-loaded and ready to go! Can't wait for Jet Set Radio for iOS, that should be fun.

Malor wrote:
The more posts of yours I read, the more firmly I come to the conclusion that you and I play games very differently. (I didn't find that there was any pure grind to BL1, for example.)

Well, maybe I didn't give it long enough; I checked my Steam stats, and I only had two hours on the game. But I just didn't like what I saw -- it seemed repetitive and boring.

Borderlands, to me, is grindy. It's not Diablo III grindy, though. Playing with other people made it substantially better and not just in the "games are more fun with more people" way, but it made things more dynamic and interesting.

Borderlands 2, which I haven't played, seems to make the individual's experience more varied and interesting through the better tech trees and putting in more variety of enemies. It's pretty clear this is still designed as a coop game. You can play it sp, but you're probably playing it wrong, as it were.

Yeah the 30 min I spent solo last night in Borderlands 2 weren't super awesome. But the hour I spent in 3-man coop was fantastic.

Raelic wrote:

Anyone play the train sim? That looks interesting but... just wondering what all is involved?

It's mostly on rails from what I've heard.

stevenmack wrote:
Raelic wrote:

Anyone play the train sim? That looks interesting but... just wondering what all is involved?

It's mostly on rails from what I've heard.

http://instantrimshot.com/

I don't think I've ever heard so many people talk about a game with as much anticipation as Borderlands 2; I know dozens of people anxiously awaiting it, many of whom took the day off work today to play it (as I did).

Also, it's completely awesome and utterly hilarious.